Inhabitants spoke a dialect of the Muskogean language, and lived in complex agrarian communities centered around fortified villages.
Cherokee-speaking people lived in the remote reaches of the Appalachian Mountains, and may have been at war with the Muskogean inhabitants in the valley.
Chronicles of the Spanish explorers provide the earliest written accounts regarding the Tennessee Valley's 16th-century inhabitants.
Most of the valley, including Chiaha, was part of the Coosa chiefdom's regional sphere of influence.
Then, from 1838 to 1839, the US government forced the Cherokee to leave the eastern United States.
Nearly 17,000 Cherokee were forced to march from eastern Tennessee to the Indian Territory west of the Arkansas Territory.
The first, known as the "Path Grant Deed", regarded the Transylvania Company's purchase of lands in southwest Virginia (including parts of what is now West Virginia) and northeastern Tennessee.The Hernando de Soto expedition entered the Tennessee Valley via the Nolichucky River in June 1540, rested for several weeks at the village of Chiaha (near the modern Douglas Dam), and proceeded southward to the Coosa chiefdom in northern Georgia.In 1567, the Pardo expedition entered the Tennessee Valley via the French Broad River, rested for several days at Chiaha, and followed a trail to the upper Little Tennessee River before being forced to turn back.The Cherokee eventually moved south from the area now called Virginia.As European colonists spread into the area, the native populations were forcibly displaced to the south and west, including the Muscogee, Yuchi, Chickasaw and Choctaw peoples.The Chickamauga aggressively contested the westward expansion by white settlers across Tennessee throughout the Cherokee–American wars (1776–1794).